Pixelated: Sculpture by Mike Whiting at Denver Botanic Gardens
It’s rare that an exhibit can remind you of childhood hours spent playing video games in arcades as well as call to mind works by modern artists in museums. Pixelated: Sculpture by Mike Whiting does just that. Drawing on the 8-bit aesthetic of games like “Pac-Man,” Whiting’s sculptures evoke nostalgia for the classic arcade era. At the same time, the clean lines and limited detail recall minimalist artists like Donald Judd.
Mike Whiting successfully blends seemingly unrelated aesthetic ideas in a way that offers new insight into both. The simplified graphics in early video games were a function of technological limitations, while the minimalist art movement purposely removed detail. Although one approach seeks to add detail while the other works to remove it, both ultimately result in similar angular, simplified forms, an intersection that Whiting draws upon to create works that are both familiar and surprising.
Set within the lush Denver Botanic Gardens, Whiting’s sculptures are also a witty complement to landscapes that are simultaneously natural and artificial. Depicting subjects like plants and animals in a style that references the world of technology and artifice, Whiting explores the space between what is natural and what is constructed. Whiting’s sculptures are appealing whether you feel more at home in a gallery, a garden or an arcade. Pixelated: Sculpture by Mike Whiting is on view at Denver Botanic Gardens through September 23.